161. The Birds Who Needed Fire

Long ago animals lived with birds in the sky. It was cold there, so the birds told Dog, "Go down and bring back fire."
Dog went down, and he found bones lying on the ground. He stayed there gnawing the bones and never came back.
Then the birds sent Chicken to fetch Dog.
Chicken went down, and she found corn lying on the ground. She stayed there pecking the corn and never came back.
The birds are still angry at Dog and Chicken. "Mbwa-owa! Dog-you-die!" they sing. "Nsusu-akende-bombo! Chicken-is-a-slave!"
And they shiver in the cold because they have no fire.
[a Loki story from the Congo]

Inspired by: " Why the Fowl and Dog are Abused by the Birds" in Among Congo Cannibals by John Weeks, 1913.
Notes: You can read the original story online. Compare another story from the Congo about the dog, mbwa, and the bird here: The Birds and their Servant. The cry mbwa-owa is the cry of the heron; the author does not give the name of the other bird that cries nsusu-akende-bombo.

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